Book review: Raising Hell

Raising Hell

by Norman Spinrad
ISBN: 978-1-60486-810-4
PP: 128
Publisher: PM Press, 2014
£9.99

Raising Hell opens this installment of Outspoken Authors (OA) with a doozy: union organisers, sentenced to Hell, unionise demons and eventually help Lucifer with his own identity crisis. Quality stuff. Punchy dialog. Guest appearances by Hoffa and Gompers. Fun commentary on religion. Explorations of Lucifer’s relationship with God. Tight writing moves this fun exploration out of the realm of merely creative and witty into the world of fun, engaging, and buddy-leave-me-alone-so-I-can-keep-reading.

Spinrad’s The Abnormal New Normal essay continues the union theme, but this time Spinrad has the balls to quote himself at the top — right under Dwight Eisenhower. That’s a move I didn’t expect, and if he was going to get away with it, I expected some goods.

He gave goods.

Spinrad explores, in part, why unions are largely dead today: thank the AFL-CIO for not calling a general strike when Reagan fired the air traffic controllers. Spinrad surfs waves of US history, touching upon corruption, dirty relationships, politics, economics, and so on. It’s a fun ride. There are no heavily footnoted portions, and it tapdances on the edge of someone pontificating at points — but there, at the end, we hear what we already know. But we also wanted to have fun, to escape, and then to have our escape bring us back to what we already know is right and just — and to hear it from the author as well: “And the only justice there is, economic or otherwise, is the justice that we make” (p. 88).

Bisson and Spinrad rock the interview. Most emphasis is on an American SF writer living in France and what that was like. While not as punchy as other interviews in the OA series, it certainly helped me get a better sense of Spinrad and the art of informed SF author conversation.

Fun story. Punchy essay. Well worth buying and reading.

Luther Blissett